Opinion Web Exclusive

Social media lets students access wider network of peers, mentors, future employers

When one hears the word Facebook and is asked to immediately respond with the first word that comes to mind, it is easy to assume that studying would not be that word. However, the Huffington Post ran an article covering a study done by Purdue University’s libraries associate professor Reynol Junco which showed different results.

While his study revolves around socioeconomic background and its effects on individual interactions on Facebook and what a lower-income individual is or is not more likely to do while on said social-networking site, it also brought about some interesting findings that correlate with academic success.

Junco found that Facebook is “one of the primary communication sources for most college students,” and those in specific economic backgrounds that use Facebook differently or do not use Facebook at all are “at a disadvantage when attempting to build a social support system to help them integrate in their college environment.”

Social communication is a surprisingly vital staple to not only college life but also modern interaction, even in the business world. A separate study revolving around Twitter, conducted by assistant professor of education Christina Greenhow at Michigan State University, found that students using Twitter were not only more engaged in their studies but were also more likely to have much better grades.

“Tweeting can be thought of as a new literary practice. … It’s changing the way we experience what we read and what we write,” Greenhow said. She also found, after teaching a class requiring her students to have a Twitter account, that students were more engaged “because they (felt it was) connected to something real. That it’s not just learning. … (It felt) authentic to them.”

UScholars freshman Elysha Adams said she uses Facebook only to communicate with other students and to find people to study with.

“Facebook is my favorite social media website to find other University students because it is simple enough to search the category ‘University of Houston,'” she said. “My roommate introduced me to Facebook’s psychology Web page; it was useful and interesting to find students … I meet people that I’ve never seen before on campus.”

“I get great information from a wide range of people who have different skills and have unique information to share to the UH community. The use of social media websites for scholarly connections is very effective. It allows you to connect with other students who may have similar problems. You can support other students who may need your help, and in return, they will support you. There is viable information that can be used toward bettering your standings in class, and it is a fun and easy way to get to know others.”

Several other websites, such as Quizlet — a site where users can create electronic flashcards — enable the creation of a study feed. If you are in a time crunch to study and someone else has already made the cards, you can download them for yourself. The site also has several features including a fusion with Facebook or Google+ to let your friends know your information has been posted for use and many different ways to study those terms, including multiple choice generated tests, word scatter, fill-in-the-blank, flash-card mode and much more.

With a campus and community as large as UH, it is extremely helpful and resourceful to have social media sites to find and mingle with people that, without said social media, you could go your whole four or more years at UH without ever meeting. While cellphones continue to break the social barrier by enabling you to communicate virtually anywhere, social media has enabled us to find people from anywhere and everywhere to meet up with, start a relationship, share a photo or sit down for an intense study session.

Opinion columnist Juanita Deaver is an anthropology freshman and may be reached at [email protected].

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